The Seattle Times reports that the National Rifle Association has been spending more money on state elections in Washington than any other state in recent years.
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An analysis by the newspaper showed that candidate contributions totaling about $203,000 helped campaigns for both the Washington state House and Senate between 2012 and 2016, the most recent election year for which reliable data is available from the National Institute of Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan organization that compiles campaign-finance information. Texas was a distant second over that period with $95,750, according to the newspaper's analysis.
According to the data, which are a compilation of campaign-finance reports from all U.S. states, contributions to state-level candidates in Washington began ramping up in 2010, when Democrats had significant majorities in both chambers.
Currently, Democrats have a one-vote majority in the Washington state Senate and two-seat majority in the House.
"I would say the NRA has a vested interest in trying to flip the Legislature in Washington," said J T Stepleton, a researcher for the institute.
Mark Smith, a political-science professor at the University of Washington, said as gun control has become a more partisan issue "it makes controlling the chamber that much more important."
The NRA did not return a message from the newspaper seeking comment.
Across the country, state officials are taking up gun legislation at rapid speed in response to public outrage over recent mass shootings.
On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bump-stock ban, making Washington the latest state to prohibit the devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire more quickly. State senators are also mulling a proposal that would enhance background checks on rifle purchases and raise the legal age to buy rifles to 21.